As we have seen in the second chapter, the authority of a web depends directly on the number of pages that link it, the authority of these pages, the level of thematic similarity between your website and the one that links you and other factors related to the content that surrounds the link, as its anchor text (text of the link), the words that surround it and even the position that occupies the link within the content.
That is why much of the SEO work, in addition to optimizing the web and its content, is the generation of links with the purpose of increasing the authority of the web and improving its positioning. This practice is known as link building.
In this chapter, we will focus on what Google values of the links, why people link to other websites and the main ways to get a link, including the main link building tactics.
How Google interprets a link
When the Google robot crawls a web, it pays special attention to the links it finds and “follows” them by going to the page they link and analyzing it as well. Links work as votes in an election, roughly if you have more links, you have more chances to go first. If you expand this information, check out chapter 2: Factors of web positioning.
It is necessary to know that there are many factors that determine the value of a link, many hypotheses about points that could influence and some discrepancies between professionals. The main most important points are:
- Relevance: A link of a page that speaks of a theme similar to yours gives you more value than another that speaks of a totally different topic. For example, if the world’s most reputable chocolate cookie page links to your dessert website, it will be much more valuable than a generalist newspaper link, even if it has more authority.
- Authority: A website to which the other 100 links will provide more value through a link than another link to only 10 if we consider that the quality of each link was the same in both cases. Thus a one-page link with authority is much more valuable than another one-page link without it.
- Confidence: Google chooses some websites of the highest confidence (institutions, universities, government …) for their robots to start a search. These pages have a maximum trust value. Google follows the links on these pages and discovers new websites. The more intermediate websites there are between the initials and you, the less confidence Google will give you.
For all this, it is more important to generate links to pages with great authority, relevance and trust than to build links without any type of filter.
How has the link building changed?
Google only wants you after everyone else loves you. Wendy Piersall
A few years ago, the link building was carried out automatically through signatures with links in forums, bots that commented on publications in a random way inserting links, exchange of links, and a series of easily scalable techniques that nowadays do not give results. The latest updates of the search engine (especially the Google Penguin versions) have focused on better identifying these unnatural patterns and not only do not transmit value but penalize the SEO of a website.
The speed with which Google changes forces us to consider not only what Google values now, but what points work now but can be penalized in the coming months. In general it will help us to put ourselves in the shoes of Google: Your business is to offer its users the best possible result for a question, the links are just a way to identify it, so we have to start by creating a content that really is the best answer to that question before looking for shortcuts.
If you really get it, that content will receive links without effort, and if the page is optimized you will start uploading positions in Google.
Why do we link?
First of all, it is important to understand the psychology behind a link. The links do not usually come from the desperate attempts to get it, rather, the large pages that have the most huge links profiles do not usually get them actively: people simply link them.
The generation of passive links is when your page receives links without an external effort to obtain them. But why would they link you?
You are relevant: This happens to brands like Coca Cola, Sony, or those that are very relevant in some niches. Only being relevant in other channels in an advantage online.
You are an authority: If within your industry you are a reference, you will get links from people who link you to complement the content.
You add value: People put links in articles, news or portals to offer additional value or complementary information. If with what you do you offer a value that complements the content of others or generates new/interesting information such as news, they will link you.
They appreciate you: It may be your friend or someone your content falls in love with. In any case, this relationship can lead to a link.
Partners: When two people collaborate and therefore the improvement of one is good for the other, it is normal that they link with each other since this can improve the SEO of both domains. EYE! Do not force this technique, the exchange of links is punishable by Google.
Others: It can happen that people link you because they hate you, because they want to launch a criticism against you or because you are relevant for a negative reason. This is not a type of link that will benefit you in the long term, because it damages your brand and because in the medium term Google could detect that it contains a negative feeling.
In short, it generates relationships, it enamors those who see your content, it adds value, it becomes an authority and, finally, it becomes relevant. This is the path to a page with a great link profile that generates SEO traffic.
Link building tactics
There are specific link building tactics that can help us to systematize our task and generate a greater benefit for a web, but always starting from the main idea: think of the user, generate good content with the keywords in mind and share it.
- Through content: This technique condenses what we call obtaining passive links in the previous point. It consists of improving your content in a way that provides value and is a source that everyone wants to link. A variant, the link baiting, implies generating concrete content with the purpose of generating attention and links. Within the link baiting, we would include the creation of infographics, controversial websites, reports, and studies, etc.
- Through contacts: A person or organization has a series of relationships that they have built over time. The more connected you are, the more relationships you have established. And these relationships can be transferred to the online world in the form of links. For example, it is very possible that among your closest relatives or friends, several have blogs or other types of web. It is normal for employees of a company to have a page of their own. It is normal for distributors, customers, and people who provide services to an organization to have an online presence. Therefore, it is important that SEO is well connected and always has a good number of contacts in the online sector. Do not see it as asking for a favor, but as a way to add value with your website to another page.
For example, in the case of a restaurant, you could try to have your staff and your trusted clients with websites link to them from them. You could contact suppliers and associates to request that they put us in the sections of their websites dedicated to it. We could even go to bloggers’ conventions to invite the most important ones to eat for free or with an offer to obtain mentions and links.
- Directories and social repositories: All the pages in which you can put a link to your page through a registration or a registration. This is one of the most dangerous points in SEO since there are hundreds of free resources on the web, but they are potentially harmful to our page. There are good and bad directories and repositories; The maximum to know if they are positive for us is: Will traffic from people who click on the link bring me? In general, a link that generates this type of traffic will be positive. If you want SEO value, focus on the following points:
- Niche directories: Niche directories are those that try to provide information about a very specific sector. For example, technology blog directories or technology company directories. Here you can even put lists or compilations that fulfill the same function in pages or blogs, for example: «The best marketing agencies in Spain». Here we could try to communicate with the author to justify why he should include ours or try to reach him by other means.
- Local directories: These are especially relevant for local businesses such as restaurants, bars, driving schools, etc. Not only do they provide great value, but Google reviews many of them to verify information about your business, and the activity and comments that are generated in them have a great influence.
- Social Networks: Most social networks allow you to generate a link to your website, and most are indexable to Google. This does not mean that you have to create a profile in every network that exists, but that you make sure that you take advantage of your social presence in this sense in the channels that make sense to use for your website.
However, do not forget that the main SEO benefit of social networks is indirect: The diffusion of your content makes it easier to receive links, so Social Networks are in a way a passive link building tool and a complement to active.
- Content aggregators and social bookmarking: These are pages that are dedicated to trying to cure the contents of the web, either through user votes, popularity in social networks or other factors. The really popular sites are interesting, not because of the SEO benefit they can bring, but because they can generate traffic spikes from thousands of visits from the public that you can build loyalty. You have more information in this post about alternative channels to viralize your content.
- Guest Blogging: Guest blogging is a technique by which a blogger writes to an external blog in exchange for popularity, and sometimes, to include links to other pages. If you have a blog or your page includes one this technique can be the most effective as long as you take it seriously. It is necessary that you contribute real value to the blogs in which you write, only in this way you will get your post to be disseminated and get a greater reach for the story you want to tell.
- Advise: Reserve your best posts for blogs where you will get more visibility, not yours. If you are going to include links, try not to appear stuck with a shoehorn, but links to some own resource of value or to websites that complement the reading. The guest blogging can not be a form of link spam, and putting a link in the bio is not as effective and is susceptible to being detected by algorithms.
- Sponsorships: NGO sponsorships, popular initiatives, or holding events to take care of Corporate Social Responsibility can be a great way to generate links and contribute to the improvement of your environment. People love linking to charities or philanthropic events, so partnering with them is also positive at an SEO level. Make sure that if you are doing actions of this type you can give an SEO return, either by creating your own page if it is something of the organization or web or ensuring that the collaboration also materializes in a link.
Broken Link Building: The broken link building consists of identifying broken links in web pages of third parties and recommending to the webmaster a series of options that include pages of our own web. For this, we look for links in pages, niches, and themes similar to ours, identify the possible links and get in touch with the webmasters. It should be noted that it is one of the most scalable and effective tactics currently.
In short, although link building is one of the legs of SEO, it is not something that can be done separately to the company: you need content, be relevant, make contacts. If all this is done correctly and is also contemplated from an SEO perspective, you can achieve wonders. However, an SEO team can never correctly improve the positioning of a page without on-page changes and without fierce support from communication and marketing.
Even the best SEOs are not magicians. They can not put a web in the first position of the search engines when there are hundreds of thousands (when not millions) of pages that offer basically the same thing and provide basically the same information. If you could, you would see a lot of millionaire SEOs. Jill Whalen